Loveless to host hearing on civil asset forfeiture reform

Sen. Kyle D. Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, on Friday (August 28) withdrew his request for an interim study of civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma. 

The study was scheduled for September 1 at the Tulsa Police Academy. The location of the meeting quickly garnered criticism from the public, committee members and the media.

“I believe the topic of civil asset forfeiture is too important to be overshadowed by politics. I would prefer to hold an open and transparent discussion on civil asset forfeiture so both sides of the issue can go on the record to present their cases,” Loveless said in a press release.

“Our State Capitol is the seat of government and is located in the center of the state so we can perform our duties out in the open, not in a backroom away from the prying eyes of the public and media. Transparency, especially when discussing a major reform like this, is critical to finding the truth.

“I look forward to getting together with my colleagues to examine this issue and refocus on the concerns many Oklahoman’s have with our current civil asset forfeiture laws,” said Loveless.

Civil asset forfeiture has come under fire in recent years due to a lack of transparency and due process procedures. 

Currently, law enforcement must only suspect property is involved in the commission of a crime. Senate Bill 838 will require clear and convincing evidence that the property was involved—ensuring the individual is innocent until proven guilty.

Loveless plans to hold the panel meeting Tuesday, September 1 in Room 419 C of the State Capitol. Panelists in favor of reform will speak from 9 a.m. to Noon. Panelists opposed will speak from 1:30- 4:30 pm. The public and media are encouraged to attend.

The meeting will bring together both national and local experts on the topic of civil asset forfeiture, as well as local attorneys and victims of forfeiture abuse.

Those presenting in favor of reforming the process will include John Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and the Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Brad Cates , former US Department of Justice official; Adam Bates from the CATO Institute; Stephen Henderson, Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma School of Law; Brady Henderson, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma; and Jacquelyn Ford, Attorney at Law.